Two Former CVHS Students Charged With Murder and Arson in CV Slaying | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 05 November 2012 10:33




Cody Nicosia, 18, who graduated from CVHS in June, could face life in prison or even the death penalty if he is convicted of special circumstances in the slaying of a CV woman two weeks ago.

By Robert Souza




Two former Castro Valley High School students were arrested Thursday in connection with the slaying of a Castro Valley woman in her home and a fire that was set to cover the crime.


The pair, Cody Nicosia, 18, and Christian Birdsall, 16, were charged with murder and arson in the brutal strangling death of Barbara Latiolais on Oct. 17 at the home at 2431 San Carlos Avenue.


They were arrested by Alameda County Sheriff’s officers at the Hayward home of Nicosia’s father where they both lived.


Nicosia had graduated from Castro Valley High School in June. Birdsall had transferred to Redwood Continuation High School.


During a press conference Friday, investigators described the murder as one of the worst they have seen in many years of duty.


“This is the kind of case that fear and nightmares are made of,” Sheriff’s Sgt. JD Nelson told reporters.


He said Nicosia had admitted the killing to his father, the aftermath of a scheme by the two youths to burglarize the Castro Valley home of money, jewelry and guns.


Latiolais, 58, shared the home with her longtime partner, retired San Francisco firefighter Michael Rice. She knew and trusted Birdsall because he had done yard work for her in the past.


According to investigators, the youths were aware that Rice would be out of town that day and intended to carry out their plan after Latiolais had left the house.


But when hours passed and she did not leave, Birdsall went to the door and told Latiolais he wanted to do more work. She let him into the house and he secretly let Nicosia in through a back door. After hiding for about an hour Nicosia choked the woman, causing her to pass out. Then, after ransacking the house, investigators said the two teens strangled her with a rope and left with stolen handguns and rifles.


In an attempt to conceal their crime, Birdsall and Nicosia returned late that night, doused the home with gasoline and set it ablaze. They fled in the victim’s SUV that was found on Brookdale Blvd. the next day.


Latiolais’ body was discovered just after midnight by Alameda County Firefighters as they were extinguishing the fire.


Some of the stolen guns were recovered from Carlos Bee Park in Hayward where the teens had hidden them.


Nicosia and Birdsall face possible life in prison sentences if they are convicted of the charge of special circumstances for murder in the course of a robbery, and prosecutors could seek the death penalty against Nicosia since he was 18 at the time of the crimes.



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